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Terror risk real: Hart
Thousands in U.S. will die, ex-presidential hopeful says
Montreal Gazette

There is a strong likelihood the United States will be hit by a major terrorist strike in the coming 25 years that will inflict thousands of casualties and wreak major changes in American society, according to former U.S. senator and presidential hopeful Gary Hart.

Hart said yesterday the projection was made by experts consulted by a U.S. national security commission he recently chaired.

"The conclusion was that, for the first time since 1812, Americans will lose their lives in large number on American soil by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Nuclear Attack Possible

He said the terrorist attack could come in form of a multi-kiloton nuclear bomb exploded in a major city, or by the poisoning of water systems with lethal chemicals or the air with deadly viruses.

Hart, along with Quebec Premier Bernard Landry, was a guest speaker at a dinner held by the local branch of a U.S.-based international law firm, Coudert Brothers, for which Hart is currently a special adviser. The occasion marked the launch of the firm's international aviation practice group.

He said that, in the aftermath of such a terrorist strike, there would be a massive outcry for the government to act, and an unprecedented crackdown by the authorities. "We will be spied on, our privacy will be gone; that will have a huge impact on our society."

Hart's speech was about the changes the world faces going into the 21st century, which he said will be dominated by increasing globalization, population shifts from poorer to richer countries, and a decline of nation states as the building blocks of the global community.

"With increased globalization, that fundamental building block is beginning to disintegrate," he said.

He made no specific reference to Quebec or Canada, but suggested that different cultural groups across the world will seek to assert their identity outside their present national context.

"All kinds of groups may or may not want to be separate, but to identify themselves as separate from the nation states into which they were cast by colonial or other historical circumstance."

The 21st century, he suggested, will be not so much a continuation of the 20th, but a revolutionary break from the recent past.

"If you thought the 20th century was interesting, wait until you see the 21st," he said. "It will be like nothing we have seen in the past."

Landry's speech, delivered largely in English for an international audience of aviation-industry representatives, also steered away from Canadian constitutional matters. His sole reference to Quebec sovereignty was half in jest, when he said that he hopes that nation states manage to persist long enough for Quebec to join the club.

Landry suggested the nation state is not so much fated to disappear as faced with the challenge of finding a new vocation in the emerging global context.

"I think they will be there to protect identities and specific cultures and specific ways of life," he said. "In this way, they can be a counterweight to excessive globalization."

Landry Backs Globalization

Landry said he believes globalization is a positive force, and deplored the blind fanaticism of some critics who have taken to disrupting international meetings. But he added that partners in globalization must strive to pursue it in a peaceful and democratic context.

"If we consolidate real peace and friendship, if the global context is (one of) peace and friendship and harmony, maybe not so many Americans will die from the perils of the years to come," he said.

© Copyright 2001 Montreal Gazette


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